Chinquapin Trees

Asked August 16, 2016, 1:07 PM EDT

I live in Nacogdoches, TX and would like to plant some Chinquapin trees but because of the blight that came through years ago I've been told they would now make it. Would you give me a rundown on what to expect should I plant any and what possible preventative measures I can take to insure the blight doesn't kill them. I understand there are several blights that act on these trees and I've also been told the chestnut blight has been taken care of yet there must be others out there? Any information you can give me would be appreciated. Thanks for you time and support.

James

Nacogdoches County Texas trees and shrubs plant disease

3 Responses

While the Chinquapin Oak is susceptible to oak wilt, it is not highly susceptible. The Chinquapin Oak is still highly recommended for landscapes if you have enough room for the potential growth, 50 to 70 feet tall and spread 30 to 50 feet.

There is one in the Fort Worth Botanic Garden that is at least 70 feet tall and 60 years old.

For more recommendations go to these web sites:

http://texassuperstar.com/plants/oakchinkapin/chinkapinshade.html

http://www.texastrees.org/what-we-do-2/tree-farms/trees-for-texas/chinquapin-oak/

http://texastreeid.tamu.edu/content/TreeDetails/?id=101

To learn about management strategies to prevent/control go to this web site:

http://texasoakwilt.org/oakwilt/

You answered my question, Thank You! However, I didn't make myself clear. What I really wanted to know about was the fruit bearing chinquapin trees such as the Allegheny Chinquapin and/or the Georgia Native Chinquapin for growing in this area or a recommendation of a better fruit bearing Chinquapin (fruit suitable for human consumption) that would thrive in my area.


Thanks,
James

Yes, the Chinquapin oak and edible nut tree popular in the southeast are very different.

Chestnut blight has never been a huge problem in Texas because chestnut trees were not grown here much. Phytophthore can be a problem. Read this information from the forest service to see if this is something you want to peruse.

Chinkapin, Castanea pumila, is a small tree found throughout the Southeastern United States. It has one nut in a bur that opens into two halves which gives the tree a distinctive chestnut look.

Botanists have now condensed the tree's grouping of taxa to a single tree, Castanea pumila var. pumila and now consider that the chinkapin is one species comprising two botanical varieties: vars. ozarkensis and pumila. This tree should not be confused with chinquapin oak.

The Allegheny chinkapin, also called common chinkapin, may well be the most ignored and undervalued native North American nut tree. It has been widely hailed as a sweet and edible nut and has been of value to it's cousin, the American chestnut's breeding programs. It is, however a small nut encased in a tough bur which makes for difficulties in harvesting the nut.

Chinkapin Specifics:

Scientific name: Castanea pumila
Pronunciation: cast-ah-neigha pum-ill-ah
Common name(s): Allegheny chinkapin, common chinquapin, American chinkapin
Family: Fagaceae
USDA hardiness zones: USDA hardiness zones: USDA hardiness zones: 5b through 9A
Origin: native to North America

The Special Little Chinkapin Nut:

The chinkapin's fruit is an interesting small, bur covered nut. The bur has sharp spines, 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Often the burs form in clusters on stems but each bur contains a single, shiny brown chestnut-like nut. Nuts are edible and quite sweet when mature in the fall.

A horticulturist once remarked, "the Allegheny chinkapin makes your mouth water but to see it makes your eyes water", obviously liking both the tree's beauty and bounty. Other experts suggest that the tree is "well worthy of cultivation as an ornamental shade tree, even if we leave out of the account its rapid growth, productiveness, and delicious little nuts, which will be very acceptable for home use." There are several online sources where you can purchase the tree.

General Chinkapin Description:

Castanea pumila var. pumila can be characterized as a large, spreading, smooth barked multistemmed shrub, 10 to 15 feet tall, or as a small tree occasionally single stemmed and 30 to 50 feet tall. Large trees are sometimes found in the landscape, especially where they have been groomed and encouraged to grow and where there are few competing trees.

Chinkapin Leaf Characteristics:

Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: toothed
Leaf shape: elliptical; oblong
Leaf venation: parallel side veins
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 3 to 6 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: yellow

Chinkapin Nut Harvest:

The Allegheny chinkapin is normally ready for harvesting in early September in the upper tree hardiness zones and later in the lower portion of the tree's natural range. These nuts need to harvested as soon as they mature. Prompt nut collection is a must as a large wildlife population can remove the entire crop in days.

Again, one single brown nut is contained in each spiny green bur. When these burs start to separate and begin changing into a fall yellow color, its time for seed collection. The burs of chinkapin are normally no more than 1.4 to 4.6 cm in diameter and will split in two sections at nut maturity.

Pests and Diseases of Chinkapin:

Chinkapins are fairly susceptible to the Phytophthora cinnamomi root rotting fungus as are many tree species. The tree can also suffer from the blight of the American chestnut.

Although the Allegheny chinkapin seems to be somewhat resistant to the American chestnut blight which is a fungal disease caused by Cryphonectria parasitica. only a few heavily cankered trees have been found in Georgia and Louisiana. Chinkapins that do blight will continue to sucker and send up shoots from the root collar despite the cankering and will produce fruit.

Folklore:

Legend has it that Captain John Smith recorded the first European record of the chinquapin in 1612. Cpt. Smith writes, "The indians have a small fruit growing on little trees, husked like a chestnut, but the fruit most like a very small acorne. This they call Checkinquamins, which they esteem a great daintie."

In Summary:

Allegheny chinkapins are prolific producers of sweet, nutty flavored, small "chestnuts". They have attractive foliage and flowers, although the odor at blossoming time is considered unpleasant. Horticulturist Michael Dirr says "Allegheny chinkapin, has entered my plant life since moving south and makes, as I have seen it, a small shrub that could be used for naturalizing and providing food for wildlife."

The great drawback of Allegheny chinkapin is its small nut size and the added disadvantage that many nuts stick fast in the bur at harvest and have to be removed by force. Because these nuts are small, are difficult to harvest and can germinate before harvest time, they have limited potential as a commercial crop. Good news is that the tree's small size, precocity and heavy production may be useful characteristics to breed into the commercial chestnut species.

The chinkapin is adapted to a wide range of soils and site conditions and should be considered for its wildlife value. The nuts are eaten by a number of small mammals such as squirrels, rabbits, deermice, and chipmunks. By cutting the stem at the ground surface, dense thickets can be established within a few years to provide food and cover for wildlife, especially grouse, bobwhite, and wild turkey.


Information from Forest Service